Archive

  • More thoughts on the nuclear option

    You might have seen that various conservatives are trying to rename the "nuclear option" the "constitutional option." It's dumb frame, and it should be ceaselessly ridiculed. Indeed, the term "constitutional option" is so vague as to be meaningless. Apparently, the cons who are propogating the term relying on Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2 of the US Constitution : Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings[...] (For an interesting take on how exactly this applies and when, see these two excellent posts by Kagro X at The Next Hurrah ). Sure, the constitution says that the Senate can change its rules, but it can also keep the ones that it has. So keeping the current rules is just as "constitutional" an option as changing them is. In fact, anything the Senate does, as long as it falls under the purview of their constitutional duties, is, a priori , a "constitutional option." It's a transparently dumb frame. They might as well have called it the "American option" or the "...
  • A few thoughts on the nuclear option

    I think the national Dems have been doing pretty well in the coming debate over the "nuclear option" on judicial nominations. Let me offer a few humble thoughts. In a debate like this, in which the issues at stake are reasonably removed from what most voters think about every day, Lakoff-inspired framing is of unusual importance. Language is, as someone important once said, a key mechanism of control. To that end, here are a few excerpts from George Mitchell's Democratic radio address that are worth examing (I can't find the complete transcript; lemme know if you can): "They call it their 'nuclear option.' It's an apt name because it will destroy any hope of bipartisanship and permanently change the Senate for the worse." Yes, the "nuclear option" (I can't decide if it would piss people off to call it the "nucular option") remains a great frame, and the GOP hates it. It makes it sound like the GOP is attacking the Democratic party, and is using quasi-violent and extreme measures that...
  • I'm Weird

    So I just did my first ever set of taxes. And enjoyed it. Not sure why, but I thought it kinda fun. By the time I was done, almost everything I was paying was destined for Social Security's coffers, and I felt pretty good about that, too. So taxes? Not as hellish as I've been led to believe.
  • Most Impressive

    Lindsay Beyerstein's review of Sin City is the best I've read. She says what I should've, but had neither the time nor talent to communicate. Read it. Also -- one weird aftereffect of the film's style is that I can't seem to visualize it as live action. Other moviegoers can weigh in on this, but when I remember scenes from the film, it's as if they were all animated, there's no weight to the figures. I might as well be remembering a moving comic book. But there's no reason for that -- the actors were all human, all substantial, all filmed looking more or less like themselves. So why, when I try and recall them, do I remember them as drawn images? It's a very weird feeling. And it leaves me with a lot of respect for the directors. Gotta give it up for comic-based live-action film so true to the original medium that, after you've watched it, what you remember is a comic book.
  • Ding-Dong, DeLay is Dead?

    Via the Stakeholder , all I can is Wow : House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's footing among his constituents has slipped drastically during the past year and a majority of his district disapproves of how he handled the Terri Schiavo case, according to a Houston Chronicle poll. Nearly 40 percent of the 501 voters questioned Wednesday through Friday said their opinion of the powerful Sugar Land Republican is less favorable than last year, compared with 11 percent who said their view of him has improved. Half of the respondents gave DeLay a somewhat or very favorable rating. Yet 49 percent said they would vote for someone other than DeLay if a congressional election in the 22nd District were at hand; 39 percent said they would stick with him. "There seems to be no question that there has been an erosion in support for the congressman," said John Zogby, whose polling company, Zogby International, performed the survey. "He is posting numbers that one would have to consider in the dangerous...
  • I see dead people

    On a personal (vaguely non-politicial) note, I find the whole idea of viewing bodies lying in state quite creepy. There's something kind of disturbing about this photograph here . Maybe Catholic readers will think differently. If so, I'd be interested in knowing why. When I was in Russia in the late 1990s, I remember going to see Lenin's body, which could be viewed in his mausoleum in Red Square. His body was this kind of indescribable greenish-gray color, and his features were all exaggerated. He looked more like a wax figure than flesh, which led some people to speculate that he was, in fact, a wax figure. I tend to doubt this, because you could see the place on the side of his head where the sewed his ear back on after it fell off. In any case, it was a truly gruesome sight, made all the more horrifying by the fact that the body in front of you was somehow responsible for one of the worst tyrannies in human history. It's a difficult feeling to describe. Not to compare John Paul II...
  • Weird wingnuttery

    Powerline's Hindrocket has a strange post about an apparent error that the NYTimes made in posting its article about the pope's death. They seem to have accidentally published it before it was finished, and so it read as follows: Even as his own voice faded away, his views on the sanctity of all human life echoed unambiguously among Catholics and Christian evangelicals in the United States on issues from abortion to the end of life. need some quote from supporter John Paul II's admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life. "The situation in the Catholic church is serious," Hans Kung, the eminent Swiss theologian, who was barred by from teaching in Catholic schools because of his liberal views, wrote last week. "The pope is gravely ill and deserves every compassion. But the Church has to live. ... Powerline has a...
  • Letter to the Washington Times

    Our new hobby is writing letters to people that are sure to disregard us. Today's letter is to the Washington Times with regard to their coverage of a study on the political orientation of university faculty. We talk about it here and here , and Ezra talks about it here . The study itself is problematic (more on this later), but what caught our attention is that the Wash Times article quotes one of the study's authors as drawing conclusions that are the exact opposite of what he himself said in the study. Here's the letter, with emphasis added: On March 30, the Washington Times published a piece by Joyce Howard Price, entitled “Study Finds Liberals Dominate Faculties.” The article quotes one of the study’s authors S. Robert Lichter as saying the following: "…this is the first study that statistically proves bias [against conservatives] in the hiring and promotion of faculty members." However Lichter’s study itself says: “The results do not definitively prove that ideology accounts for...
  • Just what was Tom DeLay saying?

    It's important that Dems play their cards right on Tom DeLay's statement from the other day. There's been a lot of talk about the not-quite-veiled threat that it represent: Mrs. Schiavo’s death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo’s friends in this time of deep sorrow. But while it's been widely circulated, it hasn't been widely parsed. It seems to me likely that it's deliberately ambiguous; they're not off the cuff remarks. It's a press release; it was planned for a certain effect. It kind of seems like by "men responsible for this" he means the custodians of the "legal system" that he mentions in the previous sentence...
  • Sin City

    Like so many other bloggers ( August , Julie , Matt , Josh ) I put on non-pajama pants and emerged into the sunlight yesterday so I could see Sin City. Verdict? See it for the style. Aesthetically, the movie is like nothing I've ever watched before. And I'm shocked by how well it worked. Experiments that radical rarely run so smoothly on the first try, but Sin City's visual inventions made the film. The acting, too, was quite good, particularly from Clive Owen, who turned in a hell of a performance. So far as the dialogue goes, I disagree with August, the super-cliched 40's film noir was jarring at the outset, but settled into the movie perfectly. Unlike him, I found it so stilted as to be totally natural -- it was just part of this world, and in that context, I couldn't imagine the characters speaking differently. That said, Sin City is enormously violent. More violent, probably, than any movie you've ever seen before. There's more torture, both physical and psychological, than you'...

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